This is a deceptively calm photo of Qibao, an “ancient” settlement on the outskirts of Shanghai. It is an area that prospered during the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. There was some old and beautiful architecture, the canals you see here and tiny alleyways jam packed with food and merchants. What you can’t see in the photo is the thrall behind me. It was the most crowded place we have been in China yet. Granted – we went on a Chinese holiday (not smart) but word has it that this spot is always crowded. It was hard to see past the mess and chaos to get a feel for the ancient settlement. These two pictures in no way represent what it was actually like!! Not sure how I pulled that off…
It was hot and smelly and I would call the overall outing a bust if not for this tea tasting the boys did. The whole scene literally made the day. The woman was so serious about her tea. She let the boys pick which tea they wanted to taste (fruit tea, of course) and invited them to sit while she brewed a fresh pot. They loved the tea and the whole experience. Super cute.
The Chinese holiday this week was Dragon Boat Festival, everyone had Monday and Tuesday off. We did Qibao on Monday and decided to just lay low Tuesday, that was the day we took the chess boards to the coffee shop. Wednesday the air quality here tanked so we stayed home. Thursday the air quality was not much better, but we decided to venture out to find air masks since A) the air quality was horrible B) we are heading to Beijing next week and C) I decided the boys need to wear them when they play soccer. Grayson in particular is having a hard time with his lungs so, better safe than sorry. The trip was futile (shocker) and I ended up ordering them online. Nothing is Shanghai is where it is supposed to be and if it is, it doesn’t have what it is supposed to have…
This is the boys this morning at That’s Mandarin, a Mandarin school here in Shanghai.
Mike and I decided that it would be a tragic waste for the us to be immersed in a language and culture for 3+ months and not learn it, so we enrolled in Mandarin classes here (well, the boys and I did). They are so0oo thrilled. I am taking the classes with them, I think it will be fun once we get underway. We start Monday! We were playing with Grayson’s camera while waiting for the Didi (Shanghai Uber) after our visit to the Mandarin School. Didi is another awesome pain in the ass. We can’t live without it, as Shanghai taxis only fit 4 people and you can’t take the subway everywhere, but there’s always some problem with Didi. As you can tell from these photos, we were waiting and waiting and waiting…
This afternoon the air quality improved and the boys got to play soccer while I made dinner. I have come to appreciate how much easier the right tools make things in the kitchen. I finally caved and bought some measuring spoons and cup, a rubber spatula and a cast iron skillet. Next on my list is tongs and I am considering a blender. I know cooking the way I do for our diet is a challenge – but good lord it is much more difficult here. I think everything is more difficult here for six Americans, but so far its all worth it.
It started raining mid-day. It’s a hot muggy rain like the east coast. None of the boys were sad to bust out their umbrellas…
Now that we have conquered the subway- all of Shanghai is available to us! Which means FINALLY we were able to find a store that sold chess boards!! Perfect timing with the rainy day. The Superbrand Mall in Pudong has a massive Toys R Us. We snagged a monopoly game, UNO, Quirkle and a rubick’s cube while we were at it.
Shopping malls here are insane. They all seem to be at least 7 stories and labrynths of shops you could be lost in for weeks. Here is a shot Mike took of the inside of the ‘iapm’ (a huge mall) in the French Concession.
Today, the metro stop was below the ‘ifc’ (another monstrous luxury mall in Pudong) so we had to go through some of that massive mall in order to get over to another massive mall that housed Toys R Us. I think shopping is a sport in Shanghai. I’d be a winner if I did not have 5 boys slowing me down… 😉
Yesterday was the first time I have ever ridden a subway, it was suprisingly clean and actually fun. I enjoyed not wearing anything for protection. We used the subway to get to a new area we have not been to called Tiànzǐfàng. I got a really cool fidget spinner and a good lunch, or lunches… 🔺illuminate confirmed.
I have forgotten to tell about soccer. It is pretty fun, all laughs chortles and giggles. Until it turns vile when someone fouls or some just generally disagrees on something stupid. When you fall down it may hurt, but if you stay on the ground it is like sucking in all the smog from the past 10 years. I love to play soccer and surprisingly we have not kicked any balls over the vile fence.
We want to a restaurant that was 56 stories high. And then we saw the Shanghai Tower that is the third tallest building in the world.
This is what the boys looked like by the time we arrived to our apartment in Shanghai at 11PM Friday night.
The first weekend has been great. We explored the adorable park across the street from our apartment. The boys particularly love the exercise equipment stationed throughout the park. Yes, the Chinese people actually use it….
There is so much within walking distance and many of the streets are tree lined and beautiful. Bikes everywhere! The yellow ones are available for anyone to use, you text a number and receive a code in return to unlock the bike. Pretty cool system…
We discovered a darling pedestrian only area called Xintiandi with lots of yum restaurants and cute shops. All the trees are key for beating the heat. It’s in the low 80s here and will only get hotter…
Coffee shops seem to be a thing here, we’ve tried 3 so far, this one was a fav and had charming window seats. It’s called Mellower Coffee and they serve the strongest coffee we have had so far….
The apartment is great and everyone loves having views like this from every room.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! We’ll be celebrating Mothers Day next week – we need time to find worthy brunch place 😉